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Breastfeeding, Co-Sleeping and The Family Bed: Safe Sleep

     There is much controversy associated with co-sleeping.  My opinion may be less biased than others because although my husband and I slept with our babies, we started them out in their crib and then when they awoke to feed brought them into bed with us for the rest of the night.  This gave us time alone before the baby came to bed with us and also alowed them to sleep though the night without feeding when they were ready. 
     What I am passionate about is the myth that co-sleeping is more dangerous than crib sleeping. 
The Chicago Infant Mortality Study reveals that Breastfeeding Infants have 1/5th the Rate of SIDS. They report a nearly doubled SIDS rate for cosleeping, but this study does not remove the powerful effect of smoking parents from their statistic. When other studies remove this behavior, they find the remaining infants enjoy a greatly lower rate of SIDS for cosleeping versus isolated crib sleeping.There are two kinds of cosleeping, that conscious decision made by highly attentive parents, and that coming from factors such as fatigue from partying or drinking. When sofa sleeping and wedging dangers are also removed, the family bed shines as safest.
Below is a summary of the statistics:
Number of U.S. births per year 2000: 4,058,814
Total infant deaths per year 2000: 28,411
Age birth to 1 year. (6.9 per thousand)
Number SIDS deaths per year 2000: 2,523  (SIDS is defined as death with unexplained cause, birth to 1 year.)
Total suffocation deaths per year 2000: 1,000
Number of crib-related "accidents" per year : 50
Number of playpen-related deaths per year : 16
Number deaths per year attributed to overlying: 19 Most are only "suspected" and may have drug or alcohol involvement.
Number of babies (0-2) dying in night fires per year: 230 Many of which may have been retrievable if next to parent, not in another room of home. This is true for abductions and other night dangers as well.
Number of deaths per year in adult beds reported as entrapment or suffocation between bed and wall, headboard, or other furniture, on waterbed, in headboard railings, or tangled in bedding: 18 With side-rail: 1
Number of deaths per year reported as suffocation of unknown cause in adult bed: 13 (These would be SIDS if in a crib. Remember, these do not necessarily involve cosleeping.)
Number of deaths per year in adult beds from sleeping on stomach: 5  (These are considered SIDS in cribs, and they are preventable in adult beds, as in cribs.)  4 per year died not from falling out of adult bed, but from suffocating (pile of clothes, plastic bag) or other danger (such as drowning) after falling out.
     According to National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 2000 Survey, 13% of U.S. infants are routinely cosleeping with nearly 50% sharing bed for part of the nights.   The number of U.S. infant lives that could be saved per year by exclusive and extended breastfeeding is 9,000 because exclusinve and extended breastfeeding cuts SIDS risk and cuts overall infant death risk in half.  Bed-sharing increases number of night feeding and protects your milk supply and therefore your long-term breastfeeding rate increases. 
     There is no 100% way to protect your baby, but I hope this arms you with the facts so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.  You are a good parent or you wouldn't be doing the research.  Trust your instincts. 

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